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God inspired the authors of Scripture by God’s Spirit to speak to all generations of people, including us today. God invites us to immerse ourselves in this epic narrative communally and individually to faithfully interpret and live out that story today as we are led by God’s Spirit.
Out of love, God, in the beginning created all things good and beautiful. God was and always will be in a communal relationship of loving oneness within God’s self – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created humanity to be relational as well marking us with an identity as image bearers of the divine with a calling to serve, care for, and cultivate the earth. God created humans in the divine image to live in loving union with God, others, self, and creation. The first humans chose autonomy from God allowing darkness and evil to enter the story through fear and brokenness. This brokenness shattered the peace, joy, love, wholeness, well-being and harmony (Shalom) God intended creation to experience, resulting in a fracture of our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation. Because of brokenness and sin, we are in desperate need of God’s redemption allowing us to once again become fully human.
God did not abandon creation to destruction and decay; rather in love, God promised to restore this broken world. As part of this purpose, God chose a people, Abraham and his descendants, to be the light of God in the world. God promised to bless them as a nation so that through them all nations would be blessed. In time they became enslaved in Egypt and cried out to God because of their oppression. God heard their cry, liberated them from their oppressor, and brought them to Sinai where they were given an identity, a sense of belonging and a mission as God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy people. Throughout the story of Israel, God refused to give up on the people of Israel despite their frequent acts of unfaithfulness.
Israel’s state of blessing from God was intimately bound to their calling to embody the living God to other nations. In a world of many gods, God’s oneness was declared. The people of Israel were called to love God with all their heart, soul and strength. God called them to love their neighbors as they loved themselves and to be a light among the nations. The people of Israel moved toward this calling, yet they disobeyed and allowed foreign gods into the land, overlooked the poor, and mistreated foreigners. The prophetic voices that emerge from the Scriptures held the calling of Israel to the mirror of how they served other gods and mistreated the oppressed and marginalized. Through the prophets, God’s heart for the poor was made known. We believe that God calls us to reject the gods of our age and to care deeply for the marginalized and oppressed among us today.
In Israel’s own brokenness, they became indifferent leading to an irrelevance to the purposes to which God had called them. For a time, they were sent into exile, yet a hopeful remnant was always looking ahead with longing and hope to a renewed reign of God, where God’s love, peace and justice would prevail.
These longings found their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, mysteriously God as a flesh and blood human. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted and set captives free, proclaiming a new arrival of the kingdom of God, bringing about a new exodus and a new creation, restoring our fractured world. Many rejected Jesus and his message as he confronted the oppressive nature of the religious elite and those in power. Yet Christ’s path of suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension has brought hope to all creation. Jesus is our only hope to restore God’s peace to humans and all creation. Through Jesus we are forgiven and invited into right relationship with God. God is reconciling us to each other, ourselves, and creation. We are always being invited to wake up to ever deeper union with God and the oneness of all things. Because of Jesus, a new creation is bursting forth right in our midst.
The Spirit of God affirms as children of God all those who trust Jesus. The Spirit empowers us with gifts, and convicts, guides, comforts, counsels, and leads us into truth through a communal life of worship and an expression of our faith by serving God, others and creation with selfless love. The church is rooted and grounded in Christ, engaging in formational spiritual practices, celebrating baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The church is a global and local expression of living out the way of Jesus through love, peace, joy, justice, sacrifice, hope and healing to a broken world as we embody the resurrected Christ, who lives in and through us. The church is empowered by the Spirit to join Jesus in bringing new creation now.
The day is coming when Jesus will return, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s original intent. God will reclaim this world, judging with mercy the living and the dead and God’s kingdom will never end. The earth’s groaning will cease, we will rise again and God will dwell with us in a restored creation. As the Scriptures poetically foretell, on that day we will beat swords into tools for cultivating the land, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, there will be no more death, and God will wipe away all our tears. Our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation will once again be whole. We will dwell with God and flourish as God has always intended. Shalom will be restored.
This is what we believe. This is what we long for. This is what we hope for. And we are giving our lives to living out that future reality today. May we all practice resurrection now.